World Heritage (UNESCO)

Axum

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The ancient city of Axum is located in Tigrai Region. Its exact geographical location is N14 7 48.684 E38 43 6.996. The massive ruins, dating from between the 1st and the 13th century A.D., include monolithic obelisks, giant stelae, royal tombs and the ruins of ancient castles.

Axum and its archeological sites were inscribed in the List of World Heritage Sites by UNESCO in 1980.

The Rock-Hewn Churches of Lalibela

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Lalibela is located in Amhara Region. It has a geographical location of 12º03’ North and 38º82’ East latitude and longitude.

Rock hewn churches of Lalibela date back to 13th-century at the time of King Lalibela, who is believed to have commissioned these structures.

The churches are hewn from red volcanic rock. Four of the churches are attached to their mother rock only at the base, while other churches have parts attached to the parent rock. Lalibela still has big value among Ethiopian Orthodox Christians and it is also one of the pilgrimage sites in Ethiopia. The rock hewn churches of Lalibela were put in the list of World Heritage Sites in 1978.

Fasiledes Castle

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Gondar is located in Amhara Region at geographical position of 12º 35’ North latitude and 37º 28’ east longitude. Emperor Fasiledes founded Gonder in 1636 with an intent to settle in a single capital unlike his forfathers. Emperor Fasiledes, has built the big castle, which is still called after him. There are actually other historic buildings as well whcih were built by Emperors who rained after him. Those buildings were in a royal compound called Fasil Ghebbi in Amaric.

Fasil Ghebbi was inscribed in as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1979.

The reign of Fasiledas (1632-1667) was notable for his decision in 1636 to establish his permanent residence at Gondar, a place which his father, Susneyos, had already used for a time as the seat of Government. The establishment of a fixed capital was a significant departure from tradition, for it had become customary for the Emperor’s headquarters to move from place to place every few years. Gondar rapidly emerged as an important political and economic center and had a profound influence on Ethiopian History. Larger by far than any other town it was also culturally the most important: architecture, music and poetry, literature, painting and calligraphy flourished.

The splendid buildings of Gondar were of brown basalt with ornament of local wine-colored tuff. Their fortress-like appearance and the use of mortar were new to Ethiopia, but the buildings contained traditional architectural features harking back to Aksum in pre-Christian and Christian times, to the rock hewn churches of Lalibela and to other earlier and later structures. As time passed the style to building developed from the rugged grandeur of the Fasiladas castle to the elegance of the palace of the Empress Mentuab in Gondar itself and, nearby, to her residence and the monastic church at Qesquam. The stately architecture was often adorned by beautiful paintings, and handsome illuminated manuscripts were made for the churches and nobles. In poetry and music, which were always associated, the school of Gondar became pre-eminent having no rival save that of nearby Wadela. The city of Gondar was renowned for its secular songs and several Gondarine poets achieved a nation-wiede reputation.

Simien Mountains National Park

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The Simien Mountains National Park is found in Amhara Region. The site is located in the western Simen Mountains, 120 km north-east of Gondar. Its exact location is 13º and 11’ North and 38º 4’ East.

Two significant points about this site are: the park’s spectacular landscape is part of the Simien mountain massif and also it is of global significance for biodiversity conservation.

The park was added to the list of World Heritage by UNESCO in 1978.

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Awash Lower Valley

Awash Lower Valley is found in Afar Regional State at 11°1’ North and 40º 58’ East.The Awash valley place in the research undertaken in the field of palaeontology. There remains found in the Awash Lower Valley. The oldest remain so far dicovered date back at least 4 million years.”The hominid remains excavated there are characteristic of a unique type.” The Lower Valley of Awash was included in the list of World heritage sites in 1980.

Omo Lower Valley

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The Lower valley of Omo is found in South Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Regional State at 4º 80’ North and 35º 97’ East. Alike the Lower Awash Valley, hominid remains discovered in Omo Lower Valley have unique characterstiques and henchave contributed in the study of human evolution. Omo Lower Valley was inscribed to a list of World Heritage Sites by UNESCO in 1980.

 

Tiya

Tiya

Tiya is found in the Soddo area in South Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Regional State. According to an article by UNESCO, the site contains 36 monuments, including 32 carved stelae covered with symbols,”They are believed to be marks of the large prehistoric burial complex.”

This archeological site joined World Heritage Sites list in 1980.

Harar Jugol, the Fortified Historic Town

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Located at N9 18 32 E42 8 16 in Harari Region. Jugol, this wall was built between the 13th and 16th centuries. Harar Jugol,  is said to be the fourth holiest city of Islam according to an article from UNESCO. Harar Jugol bears exceptional testimony to cultural traditions related to Islamic and African roots. Harar Jugol is also an outstanding example of a type of architectural and urban ensemble. Further more, Harar Jugol with its surrounding landscape is an outstanding example of a traditional human settlement. Harar Jugol became part of World Heritage Sites in 2006.

The city is located on a hilltop, in the eastern extension of the Ethiopian highlands about five hundred kilometers from Addis Ababa with an elevation of 1885m ASL. For centuries, Harar has been a major commercial centre, linked by the trade routes with the rest of Ethiopia, the entire Horn of Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, and, through its ports, the outside world.

Konso Cultural Landscape

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UNESCO has added Konso Cultural Landscape to the list of World Heritage Sites. This place covers 55km2. It is live demonstration of heritage which has an interwoven blend of landscape design, engineering and natural conservation.

Konso Cultural Landscape becomes World Heritage Site in 2011.

Meskal

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Meskal has been celebrated in the country for over 1600 years. The word actually means “cross” and the feast commemorates the discovery of the cross upon which Jesus was crucified, by the Empress Helena, the mother of Constantine the Great. The original event took place on 19 March 326 AD. but the feast is now celebrated on 27 September. Many of the rites observed throughout the festival are said to be directly connected to the legend of Empress Helena. On the eve of Meskal, tall branches are tied together and yellow daisies, popularly called Meskal Flowers, are placed at the top. During the night those branches are gathered together in front of the compound gates and ignited – This symbolizes

the actions of the Empress who, when no one would show the Holy Sepulcher, lit incense and prayed for help. Where the smoke drifted, she dug and found three roses. To one of the three, on the True Cross of Jesus, many miracles were attributed. Meskal also signifies the physical presence of part of the True Cross at the church of Egziabher Ab, the remote mountain monastery of Gishen Mariam located 483 kms north of Addis Ababa in Wello administrative zone. In this monastery, there is a massive volume called the Tefut written during the reign of Zera Yacob (1434 – 1468), which records the story of how a fragment of the cross was acquired. During this time of the year flowers gloom on mountain and plain and the meadows are yellow with the brilliant Meskal daisy. Dancing, feasting, merrymaking, bonfires and even gun salutes mark the occasion. The festival begins by planting a green tree on Meskal eve in town squares and village market places. Everyone brings a pole topped with Meskal daisies to form the towering pyramid that will be a beacon of flame. Torches of tree branches tied up together called “Chibo” are used to light the bundle called “Demera”.